PJ

PJ

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ: Special Weekend Edition

Hah! What a week! So busy had no time to post a Friday blog! And what was I doing that filled my schedule to overflowing? It was Vacation Bible School week at our church! And what a week it was! We had over 200 kids .... 80 volunteers ... raised over $3200 for our partner ministry, Children's Fellowship of India! So ... if you want to check out what happened, you can head over to the church's facebook page for pictures. And if you want to read why we do a VBS ... you can head to the church's website and read my post there.

OH ... and by the way ... I NEED A VACATION! So I am taking one next week. So I will see you back here on Friday, July 8th ... God willing!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, June 17, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

It's Friday! For many of you it means the final day of your work week. For me it means I am just two days away from Sunday. Ughh ... and so much to do. SOOO ... grabbing a cup of coffee on Friday mornings is something that I find gives me my initial push for the day! Why not join me with a cup as I share a few random thoughts with you about what is going on in our very crazy world!

1. The news of late has been BAD ... horrifically so. And Orlando Florida has been at the center of most of it! Last Friday evening, a former finalist on NBC's hit show The Voice, Christina Grimmie (who claimed to be a Christian), was gunned down signing autographs after a performance. Then just a bit over 24 hours later, a crazed gunman, declaring allegiance to ISIS opened fire in a crowded gay nightclub, killing close to 50 people and wounding several dozen more. Finally on Tuesday, at a Disney owned resort, a two year old toddler was dragged away by a large alligator. The next day the toddler's body was found. These are dark days . And to think all of this horror struck in Orlando, home of the "happiest place on earth!" All of this illustrates a painful and sad reality: this world in which we live is a world that is ... like a vending machine that does not deliver the candy once you put your money in ... "out of order." And the only One who can possibly put it back in order is the One who created it in the first place. And please don't blame God for all of this evil and darkness around us. This is our doing, not his! Our first parents chose to walk away from God and his plan and to live their way. All of us who have been born into this world since, have this same defiant heart. We are born rebels! But in the midst of this darkness, pain and grief, there is GOOD NEWS. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ. You see, God so loved this world (and us rebels in it!) that he sent his one and only Son into our world. That's right! God the Son became one of us, lived among us and then died for us on the cross! So that anyone and everyone who places his or her faith alone in Christ alone can have the hope of a newer and better life ... beginning here and now but finding its absolute fulfillment in the eternal home that awaits all of God's people. All of us have a choice to make. I hope, my friend, you make the right one!

2. I am still basking in the Stanley Cup championship won by my former city's NHL franchise Pittsburgh Penguins (in case you missed it, they hoisted the cup in victory this past Sunday evening). The other day, someone accused me of "just saying" I was a Penguins' fan because they never heard me talk about the Pens or hockey in general. Well ... that might be true. I don't talk a whole lot about sports (especially compared to a lot of guys). But that does not mean that I don't follow certain teams. So .... to prove that I was not merely jumping on the bandwagon of a championship team, I produced a photo of my wife and me which was taken a few weeks ago. In it I am clearly wearing a Penguins hat. So the evidence clearly testified of my allegiance to the Pens. But how about our allegiance to Christ? What evidence can you (and I) point to that will testify of our commitment to Jesus? That's a question all of us should spend some time answering. We will be better for it!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, June 10, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

Thanks for joining me for our Friday cup of coffee together. I hope you glean something of worth from today's meanderings! 

1. I am currently in the midst of teaching a course on the Pentateuch (Creation and Covenants) in the accelerated undergraduate degree program at Lancaster Bible College. This past week, we found ourselves at the foot of Mt. Sinai as Moses delivered the ten commandments to the people of Israel. Often, Christians look at these ten commandments wrongly .... as either ten suggestions or ten restrictions. But they are anything but! Pastor David Murray tries his hand at re-framing the ten commandments from ten vices to avoid to ten virtues to pursue. I think you will find his insightful (and brief) article refreshing. I did! 


2. One thing I have observed as our kids are now raising their own kids is the way that they have stressed the importance of people. It looks something like this: child is playing with a toy (or on an iPad) and I walk into the house. I say hi ... my grandchild continues to play, oblivious to my presence. Parent walks over to child and stops their play. "Papa is here and he said hello. You need to respond. Go and give him a hug. Remember, people are more important than that toy (or game!)" Yes. I like that! And people are more important than toys, or games, or sporting events, or ... yes ... even animals! Don't get me wrong. I do love animals (Although my wife and I don't currently have any pets in our house, it is not due to a disdain for animals but more an issue of lifestyle. We travel a good bit (at least we did prior to my wife's current health journey ... see update below). Arranging care for pets while we are gone is not something we want to have to do!). Recently in the news there has been uproars on social media because zoo animals have been killed when zoo officials have determined that a human life was in danger (the most recent occurred in Cincinnati where a gorilla was killed after a young child had slipped into its exhibit). Many people criticized the killing of these animals. Listen, people are more important than animals. In the Christian Judaeo worldview, only human beings are image bearers of the Creator. Yes, animals need to be treated humanely. But when it comes down to saving the life of an animal or saving the life of a human ... one must go with the latter every time. I would only wish that the killing of unborn children would receive as much attention as the killing of the Cincinnati gorilla did! 


3. One of my favorite (and needful) verses in the Bible is Proverbs 10:19. In the verse, God warns us about our tongue (as he also does in the third chapter of the New Testament letter of James). Why is it that we so often run into problems with our mouth? One big reason is that far too many of us start

wagging our tongues while our brain is still in neutral! We must learn to think before we speak, always keeping in mind the admonition of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:29: "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear" (emphasis mine). Memorizing and then putting this verse into practice will go a long way toward helping you to keep your tongue in cheek! 

4. Finally here's an update on my wife Sharon and her journey. We saw the orthopedic surgeon on Wednesday (our 8th visit since he did the surgery to repair Sharon's broken femur back on November 19th ... but who's counting!). He did not take x-rays (he will when she goes back in 6 weeks). He still does not know if Sharon's fracture is healed. In his words, "it may be ... it may not be." He is encouraged that she has been walking more and the pain is less (she's been using meloxicam and that has been a help). He wants her to continue physical therapy twice a week. So all this to say we are continuing our "wait and see". Dr. Heinle told us that if the bone is not healed, eventually the hardware (plate and screws holding the bone in place) will begin to show signs of failure on the x-rays (or worse case, the plate will actually break at which point Sharon will know it. So another somewhat "mixed bag" visit. We continue to wait upon God for HIS strength. Thanks so much to all of you who have prayed and continue to pray. They mean more than you know. 


Thanks for stopping by ... 


Pj

Friday, June 3, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

Yesterday I took the day off and my wife and I took our two 5 year old grandsons to Lake Tobias. Two years ago we did the same with Ella when she turned five. All three of them enjoyed it immensely! So did Grammy and Papa (and I slept really well last night!). Thanks for stopping by for a brief visit (and feel free to pour yourself a cup of that wonderful brew known as coffee!).

1. I like to read.  I always have.  From my days of Dick and Jane and Dr. Seuss to the present, books and I have been on very friendly terms.  When I read, I am always looking for what I call “a golden nugget.” A while ago, while reading a devotional book by John Piper – I mined one.  Piper was writing about ten lessons he had learned from his father.  Here is Lesson #6:  “A Christian is a great doer not a great don’ter.”   Piper went on to write the following about this lesson: “We were fundamentalists – without the attitude.  We had our lists of things.  But that wasn’t the main thing. God was the main thing.  And God was worth everything” (from his book, Taste and See, p. 34). I wish every Christian would have the opportunity to read those words.  Far too many of us live out our faith with an emphasis on the “don’ts” and give little thought to the “do’s”.  All of us need to be reminded that as we live this life – God is the main thing.  And, in the words of Piper, He is indeed “worth everything!” (See Psalm 73:25). 

2. Back to yesterday's trip to Tobias. Our grandsons really enjoyed the safari ride and seeing all the snakes and other "eerie" creatures in the reptile house. But I think their favorite activity was playing in the gravel which covered the roads and walkways throughout the park (and I am thinking .... "I paid $40 for them to do this?" Ha! Boys will be boys!). But is this still true in our society? The movement to legitimize transgender behavior is well entrenched today. So much so that if a person questions the legitimacy of it they are labeled a bigot and a transaphob. Public schools and other public places are being pressured to allow transgender students/customers to use the bathroom which correlates with their gender identity (which, unsurprisingly, is causing great concern on the part of parents, even in liberal communities).  So what should our response as Christians be? For starters, educate yourself on the issue. A good place to start would be Mark Yarhouse's book, Understanding Gender Dysphoria.  And if you are parents of younger children, you may find the following two articles helpful: 8 Points from the American College of Pediatricians on Gender Identity in Children and The Transgender Conversation You Need to Have with Your Family.  And above all, we need to always keep in mind that we must speak the truth in love.

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ: Special Weekend Edition

Hah! What a week! So busy had no time to post a Friday blog! And what was I doing that filled my schedule to overflowing? It was Vacation Bible School week at our church! And what a week it was! We had over 200 kids .... 80 volunteers ... raised over $3200 for our partner ministry, Children's Fellowship of India! So ... if you want to check out what happened, you can head over to the church's facebook page for pictures. And if you want to read why we do a VBS ... you can head to the church's website and read my post there.

OH ... and by the way ... I NEED A VACATION! So I am taking one next week. So I will see you back here on Friday, July 8th ... God willing!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, June 17, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

It's Friday! For many of you it means the final day of your work week. For me it means I am just two days away from Sunday. Ughh ... and so much to do. SOOO ... grabbing a cup of coffee on Friday mornings is something that I find gives me my initial push for the day! Why not join me with a cup as I share a few random thoughts with you about what is going on in our very crazy world!

1. The news of late has been BAD ... horrifically so. And Orlando Florida has been at the center of most of it! Last Friday evening, a former finalist on NBC's hit show The Voice, Christina Grimmie (who claimed to be a Christian), was gunned down signing autographs after a performance. Then just a bit over 24 hours later, a crazed gunman, declaring allegiance to ISIS opened fire in a crowded gay nightclub, killing close to 50 people and wounding several dozen more. Finally on Tuesday, at a Disney owned resort, a two year old toddler was dragged away by a large alligator. The next day the toddler's body was found. These are dark days . And to think all of this horror struck in Orlando, home of the "happiest place on earth!" All of this illustrates a painful and sad reality: this world in which we live is a world that is ... like a vending machine that does not deliver the candy once you put your money in ... "out of order." And the only One who can possibly put it back in order is the One who created it in the first place. And please don't blame God for all of this evil and darkness around us. This is our doing, not his! Our first parents chose to walk away from God and his plan and to live their way. All of us who have been born into this world since, have this same defiant heart. We are born rebels! But in the midst of this darkness, pain and grief, there is GOOD NEWS. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ. You see, God so loved this world (and us rebels in it!) that he sent his one and only Son into our world. That's right! God the Son became one of us, lived among us and then died for us on the cross! So that anyone and everyone who places his or her faith alone in Christ alone can have the hope of a newer and better life ... beginning here and now but finding its absolute fulfillment in the eternal home that awaits all of God's people. All of us have a choice to make. I hope, my friend, you make the right one!

2. I am still basking in the Stanley Cup championship won by my former city's NHL franchise Pittsburgh Penguins (in case you missed it, they hoisted the cup in victory this past Sunday evening). The other day, someone accused me of "just saying" I was a Penguins' fan because they never heard me talk about the Pens or hockey in general. Well ... that might be true. I don't talk a whole lot about sports (especially compared to a lot of guys). But that does not mean that I don't follow certain teams. So .... to prove that I was not merely jumping on the bandwagon of a championship team, I produced a photo of my wife and me which was taken a few weeks ago. In it I am clearly wearing a Penguins hat. So the evidence clearly testified of my allegiance to the Pens. But how about our allegiance to Christ? What evidence can you (and I) point to that will testify of our commitment to Jesus? That's a question all of us should spend some time answering. We will be better for it!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, June 10, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

Thanks for joining me for our Friday cup of coffee together. I hope you glean something of worth from today's meanderings! 

1. I am currently in the midst of teaching a course on the Pentateuch (Creation and Covenants) in the accelerated undergraduate degree program at Lancaster Bible College. This past week, we found ourselves at the foot of Mt. Sinai as Moses delivered the ten commandments to the people of Israel. Often, Christians look at these ten commandments wrongly .... as either ten suggestions or ten restrictions. But they are anything but! Pastor David Murray tries his hand at re-framing the ten commandments from ten vices to avoid to ten virtues to pursue. I think you will find his insightful (and brief) article refreshing. I did! 


2. One thing I have observed as our kids are now raising their own kids is the way that they have stressed the importance of people. It looks something like this: child is playing with a toy (or on an iPad) and I walk into the house. I say hi ... my grandchild continues to play, oblivious to my presence. Parent walks over to child and stops their play. "Papa is here and he said hello. You need to respond. Go and give him a hug. Remember, people are more important than that toy (or game!)" Yes. I like that! And people are more important than toys, or games, or sporting events, or ... yes ... even animals! Don't get me wrong. I do love animals (Although my wife and I don't currently have any pets in our house, it is not due to a disdain for animals but more an issue of lifestyle. We travel a good bit (at least we did prior to my wife's current health journey ... see update below). Arranging care for pets while we are gone is not something we want to have to do!). Recently in the news there has been uproars on social media because zoo animals have been killed when zoo officials have determined that a human life was in danger (the most recent occurred in Cincinnati where a gorilla was killed after a young child had slipped into its exhibit). Many people criticized the killing of these animals. Listen, people are more important than animals. In the Christian Judaeo worldview, only human beings are image bearers of the Creator. Yes, animals need to be treated humanely. But when it comes down to saving the life of an animal or saving the life of a human ... one must go with the latter every time. I would only wish that the killing of unborn children would receive as much attention as the killing of the Cincinnati gorilla did! 


3. One of my favorite (and needful) verses in the Bible is Proverbs 10:19. In the verse, God warns us about our tongue (as he also does in the third chapter of the New Testament letter of James). Why is it that we so often run into problems with our mouth? One big reason is that far too many of us start

wagging our tongues while our brain is still in neutral! We must learn to think before we speak, always keeping in mind the admonition of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:29: "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear" (emphasis mine). Memorizing and then putting this verse into practice will go a long way toward helping you to keep your tongue in cheek! 

4. Finally here's an update on my wife Sharon and her journey. We saw the orthopedic surgeon on Wednesday (our 8th visit since he did the surgery to repair Sharon's broken femur back on November 19th ... but who's counting!). He did not take x-rays (he will when she goes back in 6 weeks). He still does not know if Sharon's fracture is healed. In his words, "it may be ... it may not be." He is encouraged that she has been walking more and the pain is less (she's been using meloxicam and that has been a help). He wants her to continue physical therapy twice a week. So all this to say we are continuing our "wait and see". Dr. Heinle told us that if the bone is not healed, eventually the hardware (plate and screws holding the bone in place) will begin to show signs of failure on the x-rays (or worse case, the plate will actually break at which point Sharon will know it. So another somewhat "mixed bag" visit. We continue to wait upon God for HIS strength. Thanks so much to all of you who have prayed and continue to pray. They mean more than you know. 


Thanks for stopping by ... 


Pj

Friday, June 3, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

Yesterday I took the day off and my wife and I took our two 5 year old grandsons to Lake Tobias. Two years ago we did the same with Ella when she turned five. All three of them enjoyed it immensely! So did Grammy and Papa (and I slept really well last night!). Thanks for stopping by for a brief visit (and feel free to pour yourself a cup of that wonderful brew known as coffee!).

1. I like to read.  I always have.  From my days of Dick and Jane and Dr. Seuss to the present, books and I have been on very friendly terms.  When I read, I am always looking for what I call “a golden nugget.” A while ago, while reading a devotional book by John Piper – I mined one.  Piper was writing about ten lessons he had learned from his father.  Here is Lesson #6:  “A Christian is a great doer not a great don’ter.”   Piper went on to write the following about this lesson: “We were fundamentalists – without the attitude.  We had our lists of things.  But that wasn’t the main thing. God was the main thing.  And God was worth everything” (from his book, Taste and See, p. 34). I wish every Christian would have the opportunity to read those words.  Far too many of us live out our faith with an emphasis on the “don’ts” and give little thought to the “do’s”.  All of us need to be reminded that as we live this life – God is the main thing.  And, in the words of Piper, He is indeed “worth everything!” (See Psalm 73:25). 

2. Back to yesterday's trip to Tobias. Our grandsons really enjoyed the safari ride and seeing all the snakes and other "eerie" creatures in the reptile house. But I think their favorite activity was playing in the gravel which covered the roads and walkways throughout the park (and I am thinking .... "I paid $40 for them to do this?" Ha! Boys will be boys!). But is this still true in our society? The movement to legitimize transgender behavior is well entrenched today. So much so that if a person questions the legitimacy of it they are labeled a bigot and a transaphob. Public schools and other public places are being pressured to allow transgender students/customers to use the bathroom which correlates with their gender identity (which, unsurprisingly, is causing great concern on the part of parents, even in liberal communities).  So what should our response as Christians be? For starters, educate yourself on the issue. A good place to start would be Mark Yarhouse's book, Understanding Gender Dysphoria.  And if you are parents of younger children, you may find the following two articles helpful: 8 Points from the American College of Pediatricians on Gender Identity in Children and The Transgender Conversation You Need to Have with Your Family.  And above all, we need to always keep in mind that we must speak the truth in love.

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Are You Preparing for Eternity?

Our journey on earth is but a breath ... a heart beat when compared to the expanse of Eternity. We all must remember that how we live live in the here and now will impact our experience in the then and there.

Thoughts on how biblical truth impacts all of life.